Investigation found that prosecutors, the FBI and the New York police withheld evidence that would likely have led to acquittal of the two convicted men.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has said it will act to exonerate two men convicted of killing Black activist and civil rights advocate Malcolm X in 1965 in what will represent an official acknowledgement of errors made in the case.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, who spent decades in prison for the crime, were being exonerated after a nearly two-year investigation by their lawyers and the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The newspaper said a 22-month investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and lawyers for the two men found that prosecutors, the FBI and the New York police withheld evidence that would likely have led to their acquittal.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance will hold a press conference on Thursday to announce the exoneration of Aziz and Islam, his office said.
“These men did not get the justice that they deserved,” Vance said in an interview with The New York Times.
One of the civil rights era’s most controversial and compelling figures, Malcolm X rose to fame as the Nation of Islam’s chief spokesperson, proclaiming the Black Muslim organisation’s message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualisation. He famously urged Black people to claim civil rights “by any means necessary.”
He was gunned down as he began a speech in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965.
Aziz, Islam and a third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim – known at the time of the killing as Talmadge Hayer and later as Thomas Hagan – were convicted of murder in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison.
Hagan said he was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X, but he testified that neither Aziz nor Islam were involved. They maintained throughout that they were innocent.
Hagan was paroled in 2010.
Aziz, who was called Norman 3X Butler at the time of the shooting, was released in 1985. He is now 83 years old.
Islam, formerly Thomas 15X Johnson, was released two years later and died in 2009.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies